Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Tova has endured a couple big losses in her life and finds that engrossing herself in her work is the best way to deal with the hurt. She’s been keeping her local aquarium squeaky clean as a janitor ever since her son mysteriously disappeared over thirty years ago.

Marcellus is a Giant Pacific octopus who has been in solitary confinement in his tank for several years now. Puzzles are second nature to him, so he quickly finds his way out of the tank one evening and runs into Tova. Even though the two can’t verbally communicate, they hit it off and become fast friends.

The aquarium’s latest hire, Cameron, along with Tova and Marcellus, form a team and set out to uncover the truth behind Tova’s son’s curious disappearance and end up forming strong bonds along the way.

As a huge fan of octopi (especially the Giant Pacific variety), I really enjoyed this book. While the novel is labelled a mystery, I feel it went above and beyond that and included themes of dealing with grief, the importance of relationships and venturing forward in life, even when it looks impossible.

Shelby Van Pelt grew up in the Pacific Northwest, but currently lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids and two cats. Remarkably Bright Creatures is her debut novel, and she hopes it encourages folks to change course when times get tough, nurture connections where it is least expected and hang out a little longer at the octopus tank next time you’re at the aquarium.